On Friday, April 3rd, 2020, Cast Iron Studios held its ninth annual “Meals for Monologues” with a coronaviral twist.
Due to social distancing requirements under COVID-19, our open-casting-call-slash-food-drive took place virtually this spring, with actors from all across the U.S. submitting self-tape videos, along with receipts for their donations to the Oregon Food Bank.
We received and reviewed over 150 submissions from Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, Spokane, New York City, San Francisco, Atlanta, Montana, Colorado, Ohio, and more.
In all, our community raised enough dough (get it? ☺️) to fund around 6,015 meals for the hungry! This surpasses our previous record by over 1,330 meals. An astonishing feat, considering how many in our industry are currently out of work, and barely making ends meet themselves.
The Team at Cast Iron has been inspired not only by your generosity, but by your talent and your spirit.
If there’s one thing this pandemic has proven, it’s that artists and creative content are not just “nice to have,” but are crucial to our health and well-being. Where would we be right now without actors, musicians, filmmakers, animators, video-game creators, and artists of all disciplines?
We salute our first responders, our medical workers, our grocery clerks, delivery drivers, and other essential workers.
And we bow deeply to all of the artists who have made this pandemic bearable, by making us laugh, keeping us entertained and inspired, and providing distraction, commentary, education, food for thought, comfort, reprieve, and hope in our darkest hours. Thank you for reminding us of all the beauty and potential of humanity.
May we come out of this pandemic stronger, more compassionate, more appreciative, and brimming with innovation, motivation, and insights.
A profound and heartfelt (virtual) hug to all who participated!
On February 8th, the Cast Iron Studios team hosted its 20th anniversary gala at Classic Foods in Northeast Portland.
The Roaring-20s-themed event doubled as a fundraiser for Stone Soup, a new Portland non-profit providing life skills and hands-on culinary expertise to people at risk of homelessness.
More than 100 guests turned out in their flapper dresses and wingtips to dance the Charleston, and raise a glass to twenty years of Oregon film and TV production.
“It was heartwarming to be surrounded by so many friends, family and longtime colleagues, many of whom flew in from distant locations to attend,” said Cast Iron Studios’ Founder Lana Veenker. “We have such a wonderful community, and we know we wouldn’t be where we are without them.”
Many guests commented on how they felt transported back to the era of silent films, sequins and suffragettes. Authentic 1920s music was served up by the Ne Plus Ultra Jass Orchestra, under the deft direction of bandleader Sammuel Murry-Hawkins. Actor and Comedian Jason Rouse kept the audience in stitches as MC.
And a special pre-Prohibition cocktail called “The Last Word” was prepared by master mixologist Brian Van Flandern (author of Vintage Cocktails, named Best Cocktail Book in the World at the 2009 Gourmand World Cocktail Awards in Paris), using Portland’s own Aviation Gin.
Elegant hors d’oeuvres, cheese and charcuterie platters were prepared by the staff and students of Stone Soup, with the guidance of Chef Scott Dolich, multiple James Beard Award Nominee and former owner of Park Kitchen and The Bent Brick.
Dolich sourced the ingredients directly from Classic Foods, a locally-owned handmade pasta factory and purveyor of artisan specialty products located in Portland’s Dekum district.
The art deco building (a former ice house redeveloped in 2010 to include an event space) was perfectly suited as the party’s off-the-beaten-track speakeasy. Classic Foods Owner, Jake Greenberg, had generously opened up not only his event gallery, but his industrial kitchen and warehouse in service of the fundraiser.
A silent auction was held, with packages including everything from Blazers tickets, spa and restaurant gift cards, acting classes and hotel stays, to a private screening room at Living Room Theaters, a coffee date with Grimm star Sasha Roiz, and audition coaching with Grimm star Claire Coffee. In total, the event raised closed to $10,000 for Stone Soup.
In-kind sponsors included Aviation Gin, Barnard Griffin Winery, Breakside Brewery, Cast Iron Studios, Classic Foods, Eunice Chiweshe Goldstein Winery, Oregonic Tonic, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits and Stone Soup.
Auction donors included the Ace Hotel, Acting for Kids & Teens, Artists Repertory Theatre, Aviation Gin, Broder Nord, Claire Coffee, Classic Foods, Gado Gado Restaurant, Hi-Lo Hotel, Hotel Eastlund, Hoxton Hotel, Kimpton Hotels, Kristen Arnett Celebrity Make-Up Artist, Levy Moroshan Photography, Living Room Theatres, My Path Wellness, Portland Center Stage at the Armory, Portland Film Festival, Portland Trail Blazers, Rejuvenation Day Spa, Sasha Roiz, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Stone Soup and The Studio NW.
Special thanks go to Arielle Clark, Courtney Bell, Craig & Ronit Gerard, Eric Hertzfeld, Eryn Goodman, Flo Barth Photography, Jake Greenberg, John Srednicki, Lana Veenker, Michael J. Anderson, Michael Sudan, NebCat Photography, Sammuel Murry-Hawkins, Scott Dolich, and all of our event staff and volunteers.
Renowned Oregon actor Robert Blanche received a life-saving double lung transplant in August, but has had a difficult time recovering. A Portland resident, Robert has been in ICU in Seattle for six months, with his wife and daughters (ages four and six months old), living nearby. Local SAG-AFTRA members therefore dedicated their January 27th SAG Awards Viewing Party to him, by hosting the “SOS: Salute to Our Star Robert Blanche Fundraiser.”
Our team first met Robert nearly 20 years ago, casting him in various commercials and print campaigns. Since then, he has appeared in many of Cast Iron Studios’ film and TV projects, including NBC’s A Walk In My Shoes, TNT’s Leverage (recurring as Detective Captain Bonanno), and over 30 episodes of NBC’s Grimm as Sergeant Franco. A beloved actor in the community, Robert and his work continue to be celebrated today amongst industry colleagues, union members, friends and family.
The SAG Awards Viewing Party and “SOS: Salute to Our Star Robert Blanche Fundraiser” was a standing-room-only smash hit. One hundred “friends of Robert” showed up to the Lake Theater in Lake Oswego, and raised over $2,500.00 for Robert and his family. The raffle was an amazing success and many union members walked away with delightful goodies, including Amanda Fugate-Moss and Myhraliza Aala, who each won an actor career counseling session, donated by Cast Iron Studios. Additionally, Kristina Haddad won a 2-night hotel voucher, contributed by Casting Associate Ranielle Gray.
With $17,000 left to raise in order to reach their goal, there’s still time to donate! The campaign runs until Valentine’s Day – and what better way to celebrate than a heart full of love and support for Robert.